Err in the direction of kindness

Now, one useful thing you can do with an old person, in addition to borrowing money from them, or asking them to do one of their old-time “dances,” so you can watch, while laughing, is ask: “Looking back, what do you regret?” And they’ll tell you. Sometimes, as you know, they’ll tell you even if you haven’t asked. Sometimes, even when you’ve specifically requested they not tell you, they’ll tell you.

George Saunders’s Advice to Graduates

The surly critic

Short stories are not parables or wise sayings, and cannot be fragments; we ask them for the pleasures of closure.

Harold Bloom — How to Read and Why


The familiarity of odd meters

“It’s a simple 7/8″. It was all it took to make me feel like a complete idiot.

I had been happily banging on my drumkit for a while by then, but had never had the experience of playing with musicians I didn’t know from anywhere. All the other projects started for reasons that hadn’t immediately to do with the technicalities of the music being played, and in not one of them did such indications ever come up. There had never been discussions about the instruments themselves, either. No “tone” and “texture” discussion of a particular model of drumkit, no “brilliance” of this or that brand of cymbals. None of that. It mostly boiled down to “It’s shiny. It’s loud. I like. Can I bang it now?”.

This was different. I had been brought in at the last minute to replace the usual drummer (spontaneous self-combustion? I’ll never know). There were expectations; a song was to be rehearsed and played, there was no time to hang around having drinks and discuss the music each one likes, no time to wait for the stars to align properly for us all to play it. There were notes and breaks and bridges. And a 7/8 meter which, to someone whose counting skills were limited to what everyone knows about drum playing, appeared to be a monumental, unsurmountable hurdle. Despite not remembering the song at all, I remember the sensation of panic, as if it were yesterday.

Enough (Para mim, chega)

Quick and unrevised translation by myself, feel free to suggest improvements.

Enough with the resignation and complacency. Enough with the silence, obedience and frustration. I can’t take any more of this simulation of democracy, which only serves to perpetuate the moral incompetence, the civic void and the extinction of humanism. I can’t keep on watching ambition, power for its own sake and the bowing to mercantilism, dictate the future of my children, their children and their children’s children. The insensitivity is so monstrous, that they cannot even see that their children too, will pay for their blind persistence in failing at what’s wrong and repeating the unrepeatable.

I have had enough of fake patriotism and alleged sacrifices in the name of a better future, which only exists in spreadsheets, using formulas that have always failed, created by dim-lit minds, in the name of the same obscure principles that have thrown us into the hole we’re in, always digging on one spot to cover another.

We have entrusted Portugal for too long to incompetent, lazy hands, often sullied and guided by selfish agendas. The downside of being a people who doesn’t want to get involved in politics is that we left that to them and they don’t want to leave anything for us.

Enough with the believing that they’re not doing it for questionable reasons, that they know what they’re doing, that only they can do it. Portugal is mine, yours and of all those to come, and this is not the Portugal I wish upon anybody.

We have to start over, somewhere, and I suggest that we start by restoring our dignity. You will have to accept that you don’t know how to repair the mess you’ve caused, and move aside. We are a quiet people, whose heart usually beats quietly, but when it doesn’t, everything shakes. I believe that we will know which are the right options to restore this country to its proper place, but you will need to step down from your thrones and come visit reality. If not, get out of the way and let us make what we’ve been wishing for ourselves, for more than a thousand years: a country that’s dignified, truly democratic, fair, productive, and which embraces an infinite source of wealth: the sea.

How is it done? I don’t know. Not alone, I don’t. I know that trying to solve problems with the same reasoning that created them is like trying to cure a bullet wound with another gunshot. I know that many think better than one. I know that not all of us are cut out to change the world, but all can be a part of changing it. I know that if we keep quiet, silent, repeating the same mistakes, and hoping that some solution falls on our laps, we’ll just keep on hiding the shine that this country might still have left. I know how to ask questions and I know how to look for answers. And that’s exactly what I will do and do and do again, until I find them.

João Geada — Portuguese, 46. Designer, adman and anguished father of 5

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